— Beth, age 4, while holding a bite of french toast on the end of her fork above her head like a champion’s Olympic torch. She then devoured it and began cackling maniacally.
|Me:||"Whoa. What happened to your box of Tic Tacs?!"|
|Luke:||[age 8] "I finished them."|
|Me:||"I can see that. But you only got them two days ago! How many are you eating at once?"|
|Luke:||"Only one or two."|
|Luke:||"Except on special occasions. Then I'll eat five or six at a time."|
|Me:||"How many 'special occasions' have you had in the last two days?"|
|Luke:||"Probably too many."|
Most of you have not met me in person. Those who have, know I struggle with my weight. It is something I’ve fought my whole life, especially when I was a kid, and so I have worked hard to not pass it on to my kids. As a result, my kids eat healthy. We’re not vegetarians but our diet has a high percentage vegetables and fruits.
My son loves veggies, and will even order salads at restaurants. He rarely gets soda, chips, ice cream, or other junk food. He runs and bikes around all day with the energy of a nuclear reactor, sweat pouring off of him. He loves sports. He gets maybe a half hour of TV or video games in any given day (and often none at all). And yet he’s pretty chunky, heavier than other kids. Not fat, but not skinny, and it’s enough that other kids occasionally insult him about it.
Compare that with another boy we know, of almost the exact same age. He practically inhales carbs and junk food and sugary drinks, and has spent most of his summer sitting on his butt in front of the TV, staring at his handheld video game system, or riding an electric sports car around his yard. He doesn’t like sports at all. He’s skinny as a rail.
In short: my boy eats healthy and gets a lot of exercise, and yet he fights his weight. Another boy eats poorly and barely exercises, and looks almost emaciated.
To me, the contrast is astounding, and makes me think: maybe genetics plays a bigger role than I thought. Maybe it hasn’t been [only] my fault for all these years. Sure, I’ve made some bad eating decisions in my life, but here’s a kid making all the right decisions and still struggling. I’m not going to tell him what I was told as a child: that his struggle is all his own fault. Instead: he can make it better or worse but it’s going to be there, to some extent, through no fault of his own. I wish someone had told me that.
So, parents: has there been anything about your children that made you examine your own childhood in a new light?
|[Scene:||Beth, age 4, is at a party with me, eying a tray of fruit as I'm about to go get some more food for myself]|
|Me:||"Do you want me to get you anything?"|
|Beth:||"Daddy, I want just one more grape."|
|Me:||"A grape? Just one?"|
|Beth:||"Yes, just one."|
|Me:||"Okay, I'll get you a grape."|
|Beth:||"And a piece of watermelon. One grape and one piece of watermelon."|
|Me:||"One grape, one piece of watermelon. That's all?"|
|Me:||"Okay, got it."|
|Beth:||"I mean, three pieces of watermelon."|
|Me:||"You want /three/ pieces?"|
|Me:||"Do you still want the grape?"|
|Me:||"Just /one/ grape?"|
|Me:||"Alright. I'll be right back."|
|Beth:||"And one piece of cantaloupe."|
|Me:||"Now hold on. You want one grape, one piece of cantaloupe, and three pieces of watermelon?"|
|Me:||"Are you sure?"|
|Me:||"Okay. I'll be back in a minute."|
|:||[I return with more food for me and some fruit in a bowl for Beth]|
|Beth:||"Hey, Daddy! This is /not/ what I asked for."|
|Beth:||"You gave me /two/ grapes!"|
|Me:||"I thought you liked grapes."|
|Beth:||"And you gave me a strawberry! I didn't ask for any strawberries!"|
|Me:||"Did you get one grape?"|
|Beth:||"No, I got two!"|
|Me:||"But you got at least one?"|
|Me:||"Did you get three pieces of watermelon?"|
|Me:||"Did you get one piece of cantaloupe?"|
|Me:||"Then stop complaining! You got some yummy free stuff too!"|
|Beth:||"But I didn't want that. You should have gotten me a piece of pineapple instead of the strawberry. Now I want pineapple!"|
Playing with Tofu
- Cut a block of extra-firm tofu lengthwise into quarter-inch sheets.
- Have your kids press cookie cutters into the tofu sheets. Careful: the cutouts will be very fragile. And you’ll have a lot of outlines left over.
- Coat the cutouts in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, half a teaspoon of salt and a few dashes of pepper. (That’s enough for one block of tofu, at least.)
- Fry ‘em gently in olive oil over medium heat, turning occasionally, until both sides are crispy. (Might as well cut up, coat, and fry the leftover pieces of tofu, too.)
My kids like these a lot. We made it last night with a broccoli-and-carrot stir fry and rice. My daughter is not really much of a tofu fan but she’s happy to eat animal shapes. My son, on the other hand, could eat fried tofu all day long.
I keep waiting for some tofu company to sell pre-cut tofu shapes like this. Maybe they’re too fragile. And of course it’s fun to make them ourselves.